There has been something on my mind of late – the unwritten rules of how to behave when in group settings.
This is in person, although it could apply to online groups as well.
I have been ruminating on it because I only have my opinion on the matter, and well, I was brought up by a Welsh Nana, who taught us that manners were of paramount importance.
She instilled in us that it was polite and correct to always thank bus-drivers, servers in restaurants or shops, and never to interrupt in open conversations.
So it might be my upbringing, or something about the cultural norms on the British Isles that influences what I am about to suggest.
In certain pagan circles, people can quite often come off as a bit rude.
On numerous occasions now, I have seen people interrupt the leaders of an activity to try and redirect the conversation, activity, or meeting, in the direction they have decided is more important.
I have seen the frustration of those leading the group flit across their faces, but clearly they want to be accommodating, so generally smile, agree, and move on.
There has definitely been a pattern of this happening in recent months – although I suspect there is nothing new about the phenomenon, just it coming to my attention.
So I ask myself, “what is the lesson here?”
Does Etiquette exist?
In Pagan groups there are generally no universal rules, although there they might be individual ones laid out beforehand.
Etiquette is not really about the rules though, it’s more consideration for the person (or people) running the event, and others around you – but due to the lack of universal standards, etiquette is very much dependant on personal opinion.
I would have thought not interrupting someone leading a class or spiritual circle (unless it’s an emergency) was a given… but it is not.
This is one of the behaviours I have seen a lot lately and it feels discourteous to those who have spent their time, energy and money creating something for other people to partake in.
When you interrupt a spiritual gathering it feels disruptive as they are designed, by their nature, to access into the subtle realms of magic and meditation. To pull other people out of a trance-like state without warning is not only rude, it can be quite dangerous for mental health and inner well-being.
It can easily trigger panic attacks in those who suffer from them, or lead people to feel unsafe.
A need to be “right.”
One of the main motivators for this behaviour seems to be a need to be the centre of attention.
In one recent ritual a stranger started “channelling” a message from Mother Earth for us all, because we “were all grieving Summer,” and therefore we should “invite in grief.”
My reaction was to quickly perform a lesser banishing pentagram and strengthen my energetic shields against such suggestions, because I love Autumn, and I certainly do not want to invite in grief without due cause.
Grief is a difficult process for those handling it, and their personal journey is their own. I hoped no one in that circle was grieving a loss because I cannot imagine the impact such words might have on them.
Etiquette would have been to consider whether such words were necessary or kind in a group of strangers.
Considerate behaviour and speech in group situations should be high on the priority list, and perhaps in person groups would do better if there was a speech prepared at the beginning to set that intention out loud.
Even with such measures though, nothing is guaranteed.
The human condition
I have been musing on whether the need to be in control in this way is a shadow of the human condition.
A need to feel powerful, or correct, or accepted, are all behaviours that often come from an unhealed place of inner shadow.
As we enter into the dark half of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, we naturally turn inward, and so perhaps these shadows surface more readily than they otherwise would.
In noticing them, naturally I notice where my shadows rise to meet them.
How we respond in irritation tells us much about the inner workings of our minds – why were we bothered by the behaviour? Do we not feel supported ourselves? Do we feel as though people are not really listening to us?
This is the only answer I have in these circumstances – lead by example, heal yourself, and hold yourself to a standard that you feel is courteous and kind without diminishing yourself.
The only person we can control is ourselves.